Ethanol

Sugar crops are a major feedstock for renewable bioethanol production for use as a transportation fuel. Other feedstocks include starch-rich crops such as corn, wheat and cassava. Because it is a clean, affordable and low-carbon biofuel, ethanol from sugar crops have emerged as a leading renewable transportation fuel. Ethanol for fuel can be used in two ways:

  • Blended with gasoline at levels ranging from 5 to 27.5% to reduce petroleum use, boost octane ratings and cut tailpipe emissions
  • Pure ethanol – a fuel made up of 85 to 100% ethanol and which can be used in specially designed engines such as flexifuel vehicles.

There are several benefits often recognised from fuel ethanol use. These include

  • Cleaner Air. Ethanol adds oxygen to gasoline which helps reduce air pollution and harmful emissions in tailpipe exhaust.
  • Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Compared to gasoline, ethanol from sugar crops significantly cut carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Better Performance. Ethanol is a high-octane fuel that helps prevent engine knocking and generates more power in higher compression engines.
  • Lower Petroleum Usage. Ethanol reduces global dependence on oil.

Brazil is the world leader in fuel ethanol production from sugarcane.

World fuel ethanol output from all feedstocks rose by 7% in 2015 to reach 99.8 bln litres, driven by a 5.1 bln litre increase in Brazil (sugarcane) and a 1.7 bln litre increase in the US (from corn). In Europe, fuel ethanol production in the EU-28 bloc fell with decommissioning of production capacity and declining consumption. In Asia, output grew on the back of higher volumes offered to the oil majors in India and growing production in Thailand. Brazil and the US together accounted for 86% of the world’s total fuel ethanol output in 2015, much the same as in the previous two years.

World Fuel Ethanol Production and Consumption (bln litres)


2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
Production
82.2
82.0
81.7
86.8
93.1
99.8
US
50.1
52.9
50.4
50.4
54.3
56.0
Brazil
22.9
19.1
20.0
23.4
24.5
29.6
Others
9.2
10.0
11.30
13.0
14.3
14.2







Consumption
83.1
80.1
80.7
86.5
91.2
98.2
US
49.9
48.4
49.1
49.9
51.0
52.8
Brazil
22.2
19.3
17.8
21.5
24.1
28.8
Others
11.0
12.4
13.8
15.1
16.1
16.6

 

Global fuel ethanol consumption rose by 7.7% to reach 98.2 bln litres in 2015. Whilst consumption in the US rose by 3.5% to 52.8 bln litres (restrained by the E10 “blend wall”), offtake in Brazil was boosted by a considerable 20% to 28.8 bln litres. Rising inclusion obligations in the EU failed to result in another year of consumption growth because gasoline offtake contracted. Gains in demand in smaller consumers (typically with mandated markets) like Argentina, Colombia, Philippines and Thailand also contributed to the higher global total.


More information can be found in the ISO Ethanol Yearbook